Accuracy in Media

In a November 3 column in the Washington Post, Jim Hoagland confirmed that the Joseph Wilson affair was a CIA plot against President Bush. Writing his column in the form of a letter to the President, Hoagland wrote that “The hidden management of the criminal justice process and the news media practiced by spooks in Wilson-Rove-Libbygate is nothing short of brilliant. So you were right to fear the agency.”

Think about that statement to the President?”you were right to fear the agency.”

Here we have a columnist for a major paper saying that the CIA has been acting independently of the elected President of the U.S., and that Bush had reason to fear it. He said the CIA had engaged in “hidden management of the criminal justice system and the news media.” In effect, he is saying that the CIA is pulling the strings behind the scenes, and that reporters following the Wilson/Plame storyline are CIA puppets. He went on to say that the CIA also “triggered the investigation” into the CIA leak about Valerie Wilson by itself leaking. That is, the CIA leaked to the press the fact that it had requested an investigation.

Hoagland also declared, “One lesson available in this story is that amateurs are no match for the CIA in disinformation campaigns. The spies are far better at operating in the shadows than you politicians will ever be. They have a license to dissemble.”

Let us translate this statement. Hoagland is saying that the CIA lied about the Wilson affair and used it to undermine the Bush Administration, and that the Bush Administration was no match for the liars at the CIA.

So how does Hoagland propose to deal with a malicious intelligence agency? He began his column by saying, “Wouldn’t a letter to the editor have sufficed?,” as if a letter would have been sufficient to rebut Joseph Wilson’s article in the New York Times disputing the Iraq-uranium link. Getting more serious further down into his column, Hoagland suggested that the administration could have taken on the CIA’s poor intelligence on Iraq by citing “an independent stream of intelligence” from the British and others. He admits this would have generated “problems and counterattacks” from “the opposition leakers” but that “would have been better for you than aides taking it on themselves to plant stealthy suggestions of nepotism at the CIA.”

Hoagland’s column was an eye-opener. Here was a major columnist acknowledging a CIA covert operation against Bush using lies and disinformation. But rather than express outrage at this, or call for Congress to investigate a rogue intelligence agency, Hoagland’s idea is for a different White House public relations strategy.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

In a column in the Wall Street Journal, appearing on the same day, Victoria Toensing said the Wilson affair was so sordid that the Congress had a duty to investigate. Toensing is a former chief counsel for the Senate Intelligence Committee and former deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration.

Analyzing the Wilson affair and the CIA role in sparking the investigation, Toensing said that “The CIA conduct in this matter is either a brilliant covert action against the White House or inept intelligence tradecraft.” The latter was a reference to the fact that Valerie Wilson could not possibly have been a true undercover CIA operative, and if it was the CIA position that she was, then the agency’s methods for concealing its agents are laughable or incompetent.

Valerie’s Wilson’s cover was a joke. But we still lean toward the CIA covert-operation theory. And that is why a congressional investigation is needed. Do Congressional conservatives have the courage to take on the CIA?

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